storage introduction2314

Low costs for folding and unfolding the containers.

Folding  and   unfolding  containers     implies    additional    handling     (manpower)  and usually demands  for  ancillary equipment.  Cost savings  elsewhere  in  the  logistical   chain    should compensate   these   additional   costs.   In   other   words,   there   is   a   trade-off   between   the   cost savings of using foldable containers and the additional costs they bring about in the logistical chain. The net result, and therefore the success of foldable containers, will strongly depend on the time and costs involved with folding and unfolding. This influence of the folding costs on the   cost   competitiveness of  foldable  containers  is  further  explained  in  Annex  A  with  a quantitative example.

Low manufacturing costs (purchase price).

Because of the more complex construction of a  foldable container  the  manufacturing  costs will   be   higher   than   for a standard box.   It  is  true that   these additional   costs   can   apparently earned back easily through substantial savings in empty transport. However, it is important to consider   revenues   too.  The   turnaround  time of a standard   box   is   much   shorter   than   for   a speciality, such as a foldable container. In other words, the revenues of a standard box might be    greater   than   a  foldable    container    due   to  higher    container    productivity.     This   can   be explained   by  the   comparative   advantages   of   standard   boxes   in   multi-trade   operations.   This means that the manufacturing costs of a foldable container should be in proportion to those of a standard container, and moreover, should be related to the life span and the costs of folding and unfolding.

Compatibility with existing equipment for intermodal transport.

In order  to compete with standard   containers,   foldable   containers   should   offer   the   same transport   opportunities.      To   have   the   same   system   advantages   as   standard   containers,   the technical characteristics of foldable containers should conform to the norms and features of standard containers. These characteristics concern:

The external dimensions and gross weight in the unfolded state;

The strength and stiffness: in order to stack containers in unfolded state and to stack a bundle foldable containers;

Watertightness: to avoid cargo damage;

The presence of corner fittings at the bottom and top of the container;

The ability to merge folded containers to a bundle with external standard dimensions in order to achieve scale advantages in transport and transhipment;

The ability to lift a bundle of folded containers on top in order to have the same possibility  for handling as the standard container;

Simple and effective consolidation of a bundle of folded containers in order to have a safe handling process.

Specific technical features.

In addition, there are several technical features, which are important for a technical efficient

functioning of the system:

Robustness for damages, particularly in terms of robustness to the folding and unfolding  process. The larger the risk for damage, the more vulnerable the system is;

Avoiding loose parts to prevent theft and loss;

Use of high-quality joint- and hinge constructions. Moving parts bring about a higher risk for damage: corrosion, sand and frost are potential causes of damage, especially if containers are used world-wide;

Simple and safe bundling of a package of empties. It should be possible to bundle empty containers quickly and easily into a package that can be handled safely. Systems using safety catches to lock containers with each other may experience problems, which are  typical for moving parts;

Simple folding and unfolding, assuming that a minimal level of know how is required to fold and unfold a container adequately. This reduces the risk of damage and simplifies repairs where needed. These conditions reduce the vulnerability of the system. A simple folding process is an important condition for the wider application of this container.

Finally, as regards maximum payload restrictions, the tare weight deviation of the standard container   is   important.   Because   of   constructive   requirements,   a   higher   tare   weight   of   the foldable   container   seems   unavoidable.   It   is   true   that   in   transport   the   maximum   volume   is usually the limiting factor and not the maximum weight, but for heavy  cargo   predominantly  20   ft   containers   are   used.   Therefore,   to   have   wider   application possibilities for a 20 ft foldable container minimal concessions regarding the payload should be   made.   This   supports   a   need   to   investigate   the   possibilities   for   lightweight   materials   in construction.

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